Sunday, November 25, 2012

Quotes about Yosemite

(pointing at El Capitan) That mute appeal illustrates it, with more convincing eloquence than can the most powerful arguments of surpliced priests.            -- Lafayette Bunnell, 1851

... as the scene opened in full view before us, we were almost speechless with wondering admiration at its wild and sublime grandeur.  “What!” exclaimed one at length, “Have we come to the end of all things?” “Can this be the opening of the Seventh Seal?” cries another.            -- James Hutchings, 1855

A passage of scripture is written on every cliff.            -- Thomas Star King, 1860

I hesitate now, as I did then, at the attempt to give my vision utterance.  Never were words as beggared for an abridged translation of any Scripture of Nature.            -- Fitz Hugh Ludlow, 1863

I am sitting here in a little shanty made of sugar pine shingles this Sabbath evening.  I have not been at church a single time since leaving home. Yet this glorious valley might well be called a church, for every lover of the great Creator who comes. . . fails not to worship as he never did before.            -- John Muir, 1868

There is so much of Grandeur and reverential Solemnity to Yosemite that a bit of humor may help the better to happily reconcile ourselves to the triviality of Man.  Give me the souls who smile at their devotions!  Now, should this light effort--not altogether truthful, so not altogether dull--afford you a tithe of mirth I shall feel I have added to your reverence for Yosemite. [on his humorous painting of Yosemite Valley that has a cloud sitting in an easy chair on Clouds Rest and a bishop straddling the Cathedral Spires]            -- Jo Mora, 1931

The experience from which these Yosemite poems come is the experience of interacting with the Other--of constantly trying to be aware of the Universe as all one body, of trying not to be separate from it but recognize every part of it as part of yourself.  There is nothing alien in it at all.  Sometimes interacting with the Other remains theoretical.  Even then it is interesting.  Sometimes it is an experience.  When it is, I can make a poem out of it.  It takes on the force of poetry.                        -- Gary Snyder, 1955

I remembered the famous Zen saying, 'When you get to the top of a mountain, keep climbing.'  Upon reaching the top Ryder gives out a beautiful broken yodel of a strange musical and mystical intensity and then suddenly everything was just like jazz.                 -- Jack Kerouac, Dharma Bums, Matterhorn Peak, Sierra Nevada, 1958

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Words From My Yosemite Video

This is where it began.  In the snow.  My journey through Yosemite began here.  And this is where the next journey begins.

I grew up in the woods and on the lakes of Wisconsin, reading the words of John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Sigurd Olson.  Then I moved to a large city in California and lost touch with the outdoors. 

When a friend took me to Yosemite, I discovered the place that John Muir describes in his books, and I was stunned by what I saw.  I return to Yosemite whenever I can to be renewed by the fresh air, the openness of the mountains, and the quiet sounds of hiking through undisturbed forests. 

I sit by the rivers and listen to the surging water, watch deer and coyotes play in the meadows, look for owls, hawks, and ravens in the sky.  Often I see bears as I hike along the trails, and sometimes I think I glimpse mountain lions moving through the shadows.

Yosemite inspires me with the power of its waterfalls, the great granite domes, and the giant sequoias.  Sunrise and sunset often fill the sky with yellow, orange, and red.  From the warm, green fullness of summer and the cool brown days of autumn to the quiet trickling of snow-clad rivers in winter, each season holds its own beauty.

When I am in nature, the rush of daily life slows.  I have time to think about life back home and work through its complications.  By camping, I develop a relationship with Yosemite. I learn to hear its many voices.  Often I feel awe as I hike the trails between the great vistas, and sometimes I feel fear, for this is still the wilderness.

When I look over the valley as a winter storm clears, light brightens on the horizon.  Mist rises from the dark green forest, drawing me from the visible world into what is hidden within.

(These are the words to the video I posted on YouTube.  The video uses photographs I took in Yosemite and wonderful music by Lindsay Adler.  You can go to YouTube, type in “Liebenow Yosemite” and the video will come up, or use this link: . There are two versions – one has the words in captions, the other does not.)